After a hard loss to Arkansas on the road to the 2021 College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, senior left-handed pitcher Kyle Perry reflected on his college career. Back on the mound for just over 10 innings after a year of rehab, Perry showed his ability to compete on a big stage.
The Omaha, Nebraska native compiled a 5.06 earned run average as a freshman, becoming a young standout for the team.
Following the pandemic- shortened 2020 season, the lefty was told he would need Tommy John surgery. With an almost guaranteed year-long recovery process for the shoulder and elbow surgery, the rehabilitation seemed daunting.
“After I found out I needed surgery, I had a feeling going into the whole thing that I was going to need some sort of reconstruction in my arm and so to hear that it was a gut punch,” Perry said in reflection.
Just a few short weeks later he was in-and-out of surgery, immediately ready to get back to work.
Before physical rehabilitation could even start, the mental battle that comes with an injury had set in. How long would rehabilitation really take? Is coming back at 100% really possible? However, the doubts came and went quickly as the upcoming season was still months away.
As his emotions were at an all-time high, Perry continued to be his competitive self. He took the surgery as an obstacle that could only make him better.
Determined to not use a medical redshirt and sit out the season, he looked to teammates for guidance and motivation. Concurrent to Perry, friend and teammate Colby Gomes was battling similar injuries.
In the midst of their own rehabilitation journeys, Gomes and Perry turned to each other for understanding and support.
As Perry thought about the outpouring of support he had from his teammate, he said, “It was like having a support group around me at all times instead of being on an island doing it by myself.”
The two spent a lot of time together, from being a part of each other’s support systems to holding each other accountable, Gomes said, “I think we took a step back from just playing baseball and really learned baseball instead.”
The once in-state high school competitors and having known each other throughout most of their baseball careers, they had never seen adversity like the past few years.
“Kyle and I have definitely hit some bumps in the road and it might not have always been good, but it helped us grow up a bit,” Gomes went on to say, “Kyle came back insanely fast and that’s all on him. Proud of the kid and I’m excited to see what he does this year.”
Through the mental battle, Perry was also preparing to come back stronger than ever. Teammates complimented Perry, saying the amount of work he has been putting in both mental work and in physical training is astounding.
Despite not being able to play, Perry showed a new skill set to help the team, becoming the ultimate team player. In his newfound role on the bench, he brought an electric energy to the dugout.
Through the past season, that focus of being the best possible teammate he could did not go unnoticed.
As 2020 fall ball began, the Huskers were looking hot, retaining many senior players from the prior season.
Perry said, “I knew the team was special and there were a lot of guys coming back for their covid years, so I couldn’t waste any time and not play with them again.”
Knowing he wouldn’t be able to play for at least some of the season, he took in every. single. thing. he could from those older players.
Fast forward to the final of the four games Perry pitched in, he was swiftly taken back to over a year prior, when he never would have guessed he would be playing in 2021. Perry held opposing batters to just .184 hitting, asserting his place as a starting pitcher.
His talent on the field can be shown through endless statistics and numbers, but his impact on the team was recently cemented.
Following 2021 fall ball, the senior was selected as a team captain. Only four players receive this honor each season.
“I have shown the team, the state, the fans how much I care about this place and how invested I am in this team,” he continued to say, “for that to be recognized by the team and my coaches to elect me as a team captain, really means a lot and I’m extremely honored.”
To be chosen a leader on the incredibly talented Huskers team, Perry’s dedication to being that ultimate team player was clearly recognized and appreciated– by teammates and coaches alike.
Team Manager Daniel Stara said, “As he has had to overcome injuries and setbacks throughout his time here, regardless, he has been an outspoken leader that the team naturally rallies behind.”
Going into the season, Perry has huge goals for himself and the team.
The Huskers were ranked No. 20 in Baseball America’s Preseason Poll. The defending Big Ten champions are the sole team from the conference ranked in that poll.
Coming off the team’s first appearance in NCAA Regional Finals since 2007, the senior expects his team to put up a longer run this year.
“I expect championships this year. I expect to come in and put everybody in the country on notice,” he said.
Perry was the starting pitcher for the Huskers opening weekend game against Sam Houston State University on Feb. 18.